The Overlooked Angst

March 30, 2023- The big news of the day seems to be the indictment of Donald J. Trump, on charges of paying off at least one paramour-albeit before he was a candidate for President. It is, of course, important to bear in mind that he is now to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, in our system of justice.

Trump is a hero to many who hold ultraconservative beliefs. Rightly or wrongly, these people regard him as the last hope for maintaining a social order to which they have become accustomed, over several generations. An examination of history, however, shows that no social order remains static, in perpetuity.

A social system and an economy that profited off enslavement existed in many nations, across the Americas and in much of western and northern Europe, for nearly 350 years. It was gradually dismantled, over several decades of the Nineteenth Century, although its residue remained-in the forms of Jim Crow laws, social and commercial segregation and barriers to suffrage, for nearly a hundred years after the emancipation of the enslaved-in several countries and most prominently in the United States. There are those who equate Civil Rights for people of colour with a decline in the standard of living for white people.

A significant percentage, and for part of our history a majority, of the American population, has adhered to one denomination or another, of the Christian Faith. The increase in the percentage of the American people who adhere to spiritual traditions other than Christianity has left many aghast.

A key underpinning of American culture has been self-reliance. People have been brought up to be neighbourly, but not to depend on others, and especially not on the government, to provide for their well-being. Greed and mistrust, resulting in tragedy and suffering, have led, over the past 120 years, to various policies of the Federal, state and local governments that are intended to safeguard the public against the excesses of the few.

Into the climate of overlooked angst, among people of traditional bearing, have stepped many demagogues, over the past 150 years. They have stoked the fears of those for whom the rapid pace of change has proved overwhelming. They have tapped into a culture of profiting off those fears and have obfuscated, deflected the nature of those changes. They have gaslit the people who have legitimate grievances and turned reasonable arguments for change and reform on their heads.

Those who sincerely honour the Ten Commandments, which are based on the Golden Rule, have nothing to fear from the rising tide of inclusivity. Conversely, those who sincerely want to bring a true sense of fairness into the national fabric have nothing to fear from those who practice the Golden Rule, in a traditional manner. What each does have to fear, besides fear itself, is the aftermath of their opposite numbers being duped into engaging in violence against them.

The only path to peace in the house is in gleaning the validity of points raised, regardless of where on the political spectrum those points originate-and proceeding from common ground. Society cannot stand on a zero-sum foundation.

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